Opinion

David Rohde

Will “Made in America” sell in China?

David Rohde
Nov 3, 2011 21:53 UTC

Update: My apologies. In the first version of this column, I confused two different Camaro models. A corrected version is below.

SHANGHAI –When the third film in Hollywood’s Transformers franchise debuted here in July, vast numbers of young Chinese flocked to movie theaters — and Chevrolet dealerships. Wealthy moviegoers wanted to buy one of the film’s half-car, half robot main characters, a bright yellow Chevrolet Camaro coupe called “Bumblebee.”

“Everyone knew Bumblebee,” said Richard Choi, the director of sales and marketing for Chevrolet in Shanghai. “I had to get the press guys to call it Camaro, not Bumblebee.”

Over the summer, Chevrolet dealers in China sold about 350 400 bright-yellow Camaros. A separate Camaro model specifically designed to look like “Bumblebee” sold 2000 units worldwide, but will not be available in China until December. nearly one-quarter of the 2,000 “Bumblebee” Camaros the company sold worldwide.

Chinese observers say Chevrolet, though, could have sold vastly more Camaros in China. Chevrolet built the specialized Camaros each Camaro in the U.S. only after it received specific orders, creating a three-month-delay in delivery that frustrated Chinese consumers.

Can Confucius save America’s middle class?

David Rohde
Oct 6, 2011 14:45 UTC

Update: Sorry, in the first version of this column I confused two different companies. The corrected version is below.

BOWLING GREEN, KENTUCKY–For decades, this bucolic corner of southwestern Kentucky depended on Corvette sales from the local GM plant for its economic life. Now, it’s trying something different.

Last year, the state university opened a “Confucius Institute” that offers nighttime Chinese language classes to local business people. An American auto parts company chose to create 280 new manufacturing jobs here instead of Mexico. And government officials brag about the 19 companies from India, Japan, Finland, Germany, Israel and other foreign countries that have invested locally.

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